Preparing AUVs for operations in extreme environments: development of a multi-platform obstacle avoidance framework
Dr. Francesco Fanelli
With the considerable push that ocean science received in recent years towards the exploration of some of the world's most extreme environments such as under polar ice and underwater canyons, AUVs represent an invaluable asset for the science community to gather data in areas usually inaccessible with other means.
Building on the years of experience of the National Oceanography Centre in AUV operations its Marine Autonomous and Robotic Systems (MARS) develops, maintains, and operates one of the largest AUV fleets in the world, with the goal to provide the science community with the means to access and study those ever-evolving environments. Recently, MARS has focused on developing a unified On-board Control System (OCS) for AUVs. This software architecture is designed to run different platforms and provide greater flexibility and extensibility in terms of underwater autonomy. Within this framework, a new Obstacle Avoidance System (OAS) has been designed to allow MARS AUVs to safely navigate in challenging environments. The goal was to design a modular, flexible system able to work effectively on different vehicles with different sensors and in different scenarios thereby satisfying a diverse range of science requirements. The talk will touch on the OAS’s development process, the rationale behind it, and its integration within the OCS; in addition, it will show its initial validation process from simulations to field tests, with an eye on current and near-future developments, field trials, and its first planned science deployments under ice in Antarctica.
An overview of the Oceanids C2
Oceanids is a £16M Marine Autonomous Systems (MAS) development programme funded by UK Government through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which commenced in June 2016. The programme is co-ordinated by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and is being delivered in partnership with Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and several industry partners. Oceanids is also drawing upon engineering and science expertise across a wide range of UK academic, industry and government organisations. The primary aim of the programme is to develop enhanced capability for the UK marine science community, particularly in unexplored and technologically challenging under-ice and deep-ocean environments. The Command and Control (C2) is one of the Oceanids projects, and has developed an integrated command-control and digital ecosystem for the piloting and control of autonomous un-crewed vehicles.